International Power Canada is reviewing its proposed industrial wind projects in the Kincardine and Meaford areas after the province left the proposals out of the latest round of approvals last week.
“We are determining what the future of these projects are at this time . . . there is not a short-term answer to the future of those projects,” David Timm, vice president of IPC, said in an interview Thursday.
Energy Minister Brad Duguid, accompanied by Huron-Bruce MPP Carol Mitchell, on July 4 announced contracts for 19 wind projects in southwestern Ontario, including two in the Paisley area, one near Tiverton and one in the Priceville area. The minister also announced six new contracts for solar power installations
These projects will be connected to the province’s power grid through the Bruce to Milton hydro transmission upgrade, Ontario’s largest transmission project in 20 years, Duguid said.
But the announcement didn’t include the proposed Silcote Corners project in Meaford and the Bluewater project in the Ripley-Kincardine area.
Timm said the future of those projects and others will depend on the provincial government’s long-term energy plans, and what the power supply looks like over the next several years. The answer to those questions won’t be coming soon.
“I don’t believe any of that will get solidified before October. No matter who wins the election in October, the question will linger and the conclusion of that review of the energy question will continue no matter who forms the next government. But it’s not a short-term answer,” he said.
Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has promised that if his party is elected on Oct. 6, he will restore municipal planning authority taken away by the Liberals in the Green Energy Act. He also says he will cut subsidies to renewable energy projects.
Jim Brunow, a member of Wind Concerns Meaford, welcomed the news of the delay in the awarding of a contract for the Silcote Corners project.
“I don’t think that was a surprise because they still have a number of things they have to do. As far as I know they still have to complete the municipal consultation, they have to have a second public meeting, there are still studies that have to be completed, so I didn’t think they were ready to be approved,” Brunow said.
Also, about five people were laid off at Kincardine’s Leader Resources Services Inc. as a result of two of Leader’s projects being passed over in the most recent round of approvals.
Heather Boa, communications manager for Leader Resources, the wind energy developer of the 200-MW North Bruce Wind Project, 115-MW Arran Wind Project and 150-MW Twenty Two Degree Wind Energy wind farm south of Goderich, said the company was “completely surprised” to learn neither the Arran Wind Project nor the Huron County project, ranked eighth and ninth priority by the OPA until the announcement, were among the list of approved renewable energy contracts announced by Ontario’s Energy Minister Brad Duguid and Huron-Bruce MPP Carol Mitchell last week.
“The OPA changed the rules last month and opened the area to projects south of Huron County in the west London area so they could connect to the Bruce area,” said Boa. “As a result, we got shut out.”
The North Bruce Project that straddles Kincardine and Saugeen Shores is expected to be right in line with the Arran and Huron-County projects when the OPA looks at its next round of approvals early in 2012.
Leader’s one-turbine 2.5MW Quixote One Wind Energy Project southeast of Inverhuron was approved and is expected to begin construction this fall.
Boa said they expect the layoffs will be temporary until the next round of approvals.
“These are good projects,” she said. “It’s the windiest area in the province. It’s just a matter of time.”
Boa, speaking on behalf of vacationing Leader president Charles (Chuck) Edey, said the company remains committed “to continuing the project,” saying they “fully expect construction within a year” pending approvals in a future round of contract approvals.
“We are optimistic we will be successful at some point,” Boa said, adding the company has competent employees and “receptive landowners waiting for the project to move forward.”
Scott Smith, vice-president of policy for the Canadian Wind Energy Association, said an offer from the Ontario Power Authority for a contract gives wind energy developers the green light to begin the process of obtaining the necessary permits and approvals.
“It’s very early on in the process. . . What the contract does is give the developer a level of comfort to proceed with all of the costs that he’s going to incur in order to do that development. There is no project without a contract,” Smith said.
With files from Troy Patterson, Mary Golem